Yankele Dinnerstein, One of the Carlebach Movements Movers and Shakers
Date: May 14, 2008 12:54AM
One of the movers and shakers in the Carlebach movement is Rabbi Joel (Yankele) Dinnerstein. I did some research about him and I also met him once when I was living in Perth Amboy some years ago. He told me “Man, you got me down!” I try to use my brain these days.
He used to work for The Abraham Residence, which is a kosher homeless shelter. Later on he moved on and founded and now heads the Ohr Ki Tov Center for Growth and Transformation. The Center offers faith based methodologies for coping with substance abuse, either drug and/or alcohol.
I actually asked him once about the possibility of getting help for my parents if they needed to go to a shelter. Rabbi Dinnerstein told me at the 3rd Carlebach Yarhzeit commemoration that he remembered our talking about this over the phone some years ago. Hopefully, he will have some impact for good in the world.
Also, at that commemoration (it was in ’97) I heard someone say, “We are now in the generation of the Magid (Preacher of Mezritch).” The magid was the second-generation leader of the Chasidic movement.
And to give Joel and Rabbi Fried some credit, the 8th St. Shul used to run some substance abuse programs too. Rabbi Fried was concerned for the non-Jews too and one person I heard talking in his Narcotics Anonymous group said that she was “Really appreciative for her little shul that she could come to, run by the Jewish community for help.” That NA program is one of the reasons I stuck it out at that shul despite the problems.
Joel gave a performance in a temple in Perth Amboy and I talked to him about his work. Actually, he appears to be a nice and concerned person.
Nevertheless I have some questions. My first question revolves around something that Shlomo Carlebach said on his The Gift of Shabbos recording.
Shlomo said, “The way we do everything is old. The way we keep Shabbos is old, the way we keep kosher is old, et all” So my question is that if Shlomo was trying to blaze a new path in Chasidic Judaism, why are all of his Chasidim (or at least some of them) dressing in European style clothing? And why are they calling Shlomo Der Rebbe, with a European type accent, like Carlebach clones of Chabad?
My father’s essential complaint about that movement is that is was a one-man show. But some people have been branching out like Rabbi Dinnerstein and someone at the Carlebach Shul who is a Jewish rap music artist.
The former Rabbi at the Shul before Rabbi Naftali Citron (Shlomo’s Grand Nephew) took over, Sammy Intrator once said, “Well, in the past, Chasidic Jews definitely didn’t dress like a lot of people in the Shul do.” So maybe some people have made some progress.
I read a book in West Side Judaica that claimed that the Carlebach Shul is Modern Orthodox. What Shlomo would have said to that is unknown to me but I think he would not have been appreciative of that classification.
Someone I know from Chabad told me some years ago, “Well, they’re really not very frum (“religious”), are they?” She said it in a very condescending tone of voice and of course she, as a Chabad Baalat Teshuva was very much superior to a Carlebach person. Basically, it’s a case of “frumer than thou.”
And to go back to Shlomo, I had a video of him on which he complained that he hates it when people call him “The Rock and Roll Rabbi.” So what does he think of Shimon (“C” if the first initial he goes by now) Lanzbom’s guitar work on some of Shlomo’s later recordings and his own stuff and Soulfarm’s recordings. See the web for Soulfarm and C Lanzbom.